International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Monday, June 28, 2004
Year V, Edition 961

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 47 more news items.

"Our goal of full participation is a dream deferred."

--National Organization on Disability President Alan A. Reich, commenting on an N.O.D./Harris Survey whose results were announced last Thursday (First story)

"As a therapeutic intervention, seclusion was portrayed as solitude -- calm, serene and contemplative. Evidence now suggests that seclusion poses significant risks to service users, including death, re-traumatisation, loss of dignity and other psychological harm."
--From a study released Monday on the negative impact of seclusion in New Zealand's mental health facilities (Second story)



Poll Shows People With Disabilities Still At Disadvantage

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--Americans with disabilities still face high rates of unemployment, poverty, and discrimination, along with low rates of high school completion and general life satisfaction, according to the results of a poll released last Thursday.

The 2004 National Organization on Disability/Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities compiled data collected from interviewing more than 2000 people. The results were revealed at a hearing by the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness. Actor Robert David Hall, from the CBS-TV series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", spoke at the hearing.

"Depending on the severity and type of disability that one has, some doors open but certain other doors close," said Hall, who lost both legs in a 1978 highway accident, and whose character on the show is also a double amputee. "The N.O.D./Harris Survey does a good job of pointing out these societal problems and highlights the real gaps we face as citizens with disabilities."

Surveyors found that 35 percent of respondents with disabilities had jobs, compared to 78 percent of those who do not have disabilities. Twenty-six percent of those with disabilities live in poverty with yearly incomes below $15,000, compared to nine percent of people without disabilities. They are also more than twice as likely to drop out of high school, have adequate transportation or go without needed health care.

And while 61 percent of people without disabilities say they are very satisfied with their lives, only 34 percent of those with disabilities report being very satisfied. Many are worried about their futures, especially their health.

On a more positive note, only 22 percent of those with disabilities that have jobs said that they had encountered discrimination, compared with 36 percent in 2000. Also, 56 percent of respondents in this survey said that they identify with other people who have disabilities, which is up from 47 percent four years ago. More have also found technology to be an important part of their independence.

"There's much work to be done," Mary Dolan, vice president of N.O.D., told USA Today. "On a daily basis, people with disabilities are not fulfilling their potential. That's something we take very seriously."

The entire text of the survey is scheduled to be released in August.

"Landmark Disability Survey Finds Pervasive Disadvantages" (National Organization on Disability)
Chairman Burton to Examine the Status of Living with Disabilities in the U.S. (House Committee on Government Reform)



Study Calls For Eliminating Isolation Techniques

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2004

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--Seclusion, the practice of isolating individual mental health patients from everyone else, is not an effective form of treatment and puts them in danger of physical and psychological harm, a report from New Zealand's Mental Health Commission revealed Monday.

The Commission study, launched in 2001, studied the use of seclusion in mental health facilities across the country.

Researchers found that more than one-third of all mental health patients were placed in seclusion for part of their hospitalization, at an average of 50 hours a month. At least one person was locked up for 600 hours -- the equivalent of 25 days -- in one month. The least amount of time in seclusion was one hour.

While therapy, containment and punishment were given as the reasons for isolating certain people, the study found little proof that seclusion benefited patients or staff.

"As a therapeutic intervention, seclusion was portrayed as solitude – calm, serene and contemplative," the study said. "Evidence now suggests that seclusion poses significant risks to service users, including death, re-traumatisation, loss of dignity and other psychological harm. As a punishment, seclusion has been portrayed as remedial, although this rationale is not sanctioned under New Zealand law."

"The research evidence does not support seclusion as a treatment or therapy. The research literature also sees seclusion as a containment procedure that can be psychologically damaging for some people. Qualitative literature indicates that feelings of helplessness, punishment and depression are common, as are feelings of anger, frustration, confusion and fear."

The study found further that many of the actual reasons patients were secluded had less to do with the patients' behavior and more to do with their institutional environment.

"Seclusion is supposed to be a 'last resort' intervention. However, in practice the resources, staffing constraints and the operational environment limit the use of alternative practices (e.g., quiet lounges, specialling, time out, confinement without isolation or reduced sensory input). Seclusion reduces risks and ambiguity for staff and is a procedure justified by legislation and policy. Within such an environment, seclusion can become an all too easy intervention. This raises serious questions about human rights and the duty of care."

Jan Dowland, the Chair of the panel, wrote that the Mental Health Commission would like to see the use of seclusion eliminated for mental health patients, and that an immediate reduction is called for.

"Lock-up 'therapy' damaging" (New Zealand Herald)
"Seclusion in New Zealand Mental Health Service" (Mental Health Commission)



Woman To Be Sterilized By Court Order

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 28, 2004

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE--Loretta McGee is pregnant with her 10th child.

If her mother and a Memphis judge have their way, it will be McGee's last pregnancy, regardless of what the 33-year-old woman says or wants.

In Tennessee, a judge cannot force a woman to be sterilized against her wishes, except in situations where it is needed to protect the mother's health.

But last Friday, Juvenile Court Referee Claudia Haltom signed a court order to have McGee, who has mental retardation, undergo a tubal ligation after the child is born in October.

McGee has reportedly said that she wants the operation.

But some advocates are concerned that McGee may not understand her rights and may be under pressure to agree to the sterilization surgery.

"The suggestion in and of itself coming from the court is coercive," Hedy Weinberg, head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee, told the Commercial Appeal.

Advocates are also concerned because McGee's mother, Dorothy Wise, has said that -- if McGee protests -- she will have her declared incompetent, then take over guardianship to force the operation.

Tennessee officials claim that McGee's nine children, four of which have mental retardation, cost the state at least $12,000 a month. Some of them have been involved in the juvenile court system because of misbehavior. All of the children have different fathers, none of which have claimed any responsibility or have kept in touch with the children.

Wise currently takes care of seven of McGee's children, along with McGee's brother who also has mental retardation, in her own home.

Some people calling for an investigation into whether McGee was raped, and why the state has not successfully tracked down the delinquent fathers and ordered them to pay child support.

"Birth control ordered for pregnant retarded woman" (Associated Press via Nashville Tennessean)
"Court orders sterilization" (Memphis Commercial Appeal -- may require free registration)



Neighbors Say Group Homes Are Good For Their Neighborhoods

June 28, 2004

CEDARBURG, WISCONSIN--Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a short item by columnist Mike Nichols about plans to establish a group home for people with developmental disabilities in the small town of Cedarburg.

As Inclusion Daily Express readers have seen over and over, group homes are still being met with resistance and opposition.

But Nichols talked to people who have lived near such residences for years and found that many feel good about their neighbors with disabilities.

"I would not mind having a whole block of those homes," said one man who has lived near a group home for 10 years.

Nichols suggested that people living near the planned home respond by being good neighbors themselves, and throw a party or, perhaps, bring over muffins.

"Communities, say neighbors, benefit from group homes" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)



"No Money for Services but New Funds to Harass Us" by Marta Russell

June 28, 2004

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA--The following paragraphs are excerpts from a recent commentary by disability rights advocate and journalist Marta Russell which appeared in

While on the national front ADAPT has been waging its campaign against the institutional bias in Medicaid that keeps nursing homes flush and disabled people unnecessarily captive in them, Governor Schwarzenegger would like to eliminate California's In Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) turning back the clock.

The state-only funded IHSS program is a pioneer project that has for over 20 years provided workers for significantly disabled persons to allow us to remain in our homes and communities rather than be shuffled off to some rat infested nursing home.

The Governor's destructive plan has been fought back at every turn by thousands of disabled persons and the home care workers unions who have pounded the pavement around the state capitol building and linoleum of state office building over the past 6 months to see that our state funded program remains in tact. Protestors have clogged the hallways of legislators' offices. Many have made grueling all night trips to Sacramento to come out en masse to stop him in his tracks.

Entire article:
"No Money for Services but New Funds to Harass Us" by Marta Russell (



CIBRA: Children Injured By Restraint And Aversives

CIBRA is a fledgling organization in the first stages of development. Founded by families whose autistic children were severely traumatized in well known programs of discrete trial (ABA)and other various settings utilizing dangerous behavior modification techniques, we are an integral part of the fast growing civil rights movement in the autism community.


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